HMRC has issued a further update to its employer and employee guidance on the Job Retention Scheme (“the Scheme”). This includes the following key clarifications:-

  1. The payroll eligibility date, being the date when the employee has to have been on the employer's payroll to qualify for the Scheme, has changed from 28 February to 19 March 2020. The guidance provides as follows:-

    “You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020.This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020.”

    This means that a large number of employees who started employment after the 28th February will now qualify for the Scheme and this may be helpful for businesses that employ seasonal employees (many of whom started work in the first week of March).
  2. In light of this change, the date for calculating the reference salary of salaried employees has also changed to the 19th March 2020. However, the revised guidance provides that if, based on the previous guidance, an employer has calculated their claim based on the employee’s salary as at 28 February 2020 (and this differs from their salary in their last pay period prior to 19 March 2020) an employer can choose to still use this calculation for their first claim.
  3. The position for those on unpaid leave has been clarified. If an employee started unpaid leave after 28 February 2020, they can be placed on furlough. However, if an employee started unpaid leave on or before 28 February 2020, they cannot be furloughed until the date on which it was agreed they would return from unpaid leave.
  4. There is also further guidance on how the required employee information should be submitted to HMRC and the guidance confirms that an employer should retain all records and calculations in respect of their claims.

The Treasury Direction contains complex and detailed rules on eligibility and conditions for the Scheme, together with comprehensive information on how claims should be submitted and how HMRC will process them. Employers will need to give careful consideration to how their arrangements comply with these new rules as well as the updated guidance, mindful that the online portal is expected to be open on Monday for April claims.

Meantime, please get in touch with your usual contact within the employment team if you need any advice on how these changes will affect your organisation.